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Many of us are eating too much, and not being active enough. That's why nearly two-thirds of the adult population in England is overweight or obese.
Find out how much you should be eating and how to cut the calories.
Latest figures show that more than half of the UK population – 65% of men and 58% of women – are overweight or obese.
When we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this continues, over time we may become overweight and can become obese. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes , heart disease , stroke and some cancers .
Many adults need to lose weight, and to do this they need to eat and drink fewer calories. Combining these changes with increased physical activity is the best way to achieve a healthier weight.
Our bodies need energy to keep us alive and our organs functioning normally. The amount you need to eat for your body to do this depends on a range of factors, including your size, age, gender and how physically active you are.
To maintain a stable weight, the energy we put into our bodies must be the same as the energy we use up through normal body functions and physical activity. An important part of a healthy diet is eating the right amount of calories; balancing the energy you put into your body with the energy you use.
As a guide, men need around 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight, and women need around 2,000kcal a day (8,400kJ).
If you need to lose weight, aim to lose about 0.5-1kg (1-2lb) a week until you reach a healthy weight for your height. You should be able to lose this amount if you eat and drink about 500-600kcal fewer a day than you need.
You can find out whether you are a healthy weight by using the BMI calculator. If you are overweight, the healthy weight calculator will give you a personalised suggested calorie range.
If you are very physically active because of your job or you do a lot of exercise, you may need more calories to maintain a healthy weight. If you do very little physical activity – for example, you are housebound – or if you are overweight or obese, you may need fewer calories.
A healthy diet is not only about eating the right amount. It also means eating a wide range of foods to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. You can still eat less when following a balanced diet. Learn more about a balanced diet in the Eatwell Guide.
Most of us are eating and drinking more than we need, and we often think we are more active than we actually are.
It's estimated that the average adult has 200-300 more calories than they need every day. This might not sound much, but over time it will cause significant weight gain.
Foods and drinks that are high in fat or sugar can contain lots of calories, and eating or drinking these often or in large amounts can make it easy to have more calories than you need.
If you are overweight or obese, think about where your extra calories are coming from and make changes to your diet to reduce the number of calories you consume.
You can reduce the number of calories you eat by making healthier choices when it comes to food and drink.
Often, that will mean swapping high-fat and/or high-sugar foods for alternatives that contain fewer calories, or eating these foods in smaller portions and less often.
It's not just foods: drinks can be high in calories, too. To consume fewer calories, you should choose drinks lower in fat and sugar, or have smaller amounts of high-calorie drinks less often. Don't forget that alcohol can also be high in calories.
As well as choosing foods and drinks lower in fat and sugars, also think about reducing the size of your portions. Research suggests we tend to eat more when we are served more, even when we don't need the extra calories.
When serving yourself food at home, resist filling your plate, and think about whether you're really hungry before having an extra helping. When eating out, avoid supersizing or choosing large portions of food or drink.
Knowing the calorie content of different foods and drinks can be useful when it comes to achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. It can help us keep track of the amount of energy we put into our bodies and ensure we are not eating too much.
The calorie content of many foods and drinks is on the packaging as part of the nutrition label. You can look at the calorie figure to assess how a particular food or drink fits into your daily intake. The calorie checker on this page can tell you how many calories are in a wide variety of foods and drinks.
Find out more in Understanding calories.
These tips can help you get started:
Remember to combine eating fewer calories with more physical activity to gradually lose weight and help you keep it off.
If you currently eat too much, making changes towards a healthy, balanced diet will also help you reduce the number of calories you eat and drink, as well as help make sure you get all the nutrients you need.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.